Letters to the Editor

Libraries are still relevant

Thursday, February 20, 2014    

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Dear Editor,

The notion that libraries are going extinct still exists in the minds of many individuals. Unfortunately, many Jamaicans do not see the value of public libraries within their communities and do not care if they exist. Libraries and even the profession of librarianship are often frowned upon. They are described as useless, insignificant and downright invalid.

In an economy such as ours with an alarming rate of illiteracy, the Government invests solely in the development of schools and remedial institutions to cure illiteracy. What about public libraries?

Libraries have been in existence since forever, and one of the oldest institutions to date. Since, the domination of information and communication technologies worldwide, libraries have been declared dead by many, but little do they know the value of such institutions.

No longer are libraries trapped in a vacuum; they have broadened their horizons and embraced technology and made it their own. No longer are they providing only books, but information resources from databases, credible sources online, as well as academic journals, magazines and articles. There are also many programmes that are pro-literacy such as reading clubs, reading competitions, grade four literacy programmes, summer school and other activities.

What some Jamaicans fail to realise is that libraries have the potential to contribute positively to the social and educational development of the Jamaican people. Libraries have trained professionals who are willing and capable to make the reduction of illiteracy a reality. Jamaicans need to change their mindset of what a library can do, but if this is to become a reality there needs to be full support from the Government.

Sidoney Sterling

Sidoney.Sterling@jls.gov.jm

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